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Sir Alex Helps Launch Nelson Mandela Statue Bid

A FUNDRAISING campaign has been launched by GCU donor Sir Alex Ferguson in a bid to erect a statue of Nelson Mandela in the square named after him.

It is hoped that £250,000 will be raised to make a statue that will  mark a hundred years since the former South African President was born in 2018.

Nelson Mandela, who was presented with an honorary degree by GCU in 1996, was given freedom of the city in 1981. Glasgow was the first local authority in the world to do so whilst he was serving a 27 prison sentence.

Former Manchester United Manager, Sir Alex who is a patron of the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation said he was ‘proud’ to be part of the campaign.

He said: “The remarkable thing about Nelson Mandela was his complete lack of bitterness at being imprisoned for 27 years.

“You have to be special to put to one side what he endured and suffered for over a quarter of a century and then go on to lead his country to democracy and influence his people in such a massive way. Nelson Mandela was special.  An example for the world to follow.”

Mandela’s first visited Glasgow 24 years ago today where he was presented with freedom of the city and shown around St Georges Place which was renamed in his honour.

He spent 22 years of his sentence with Govan Mbeki, another apartheid activist who GCU’s health building is named after.

L to R: Sir Alex Ferguson, Lord Provost Eva Bolander and Anti- Apartheid Activist Brian Filling.

NMSMF Chairman and honorary consul for South Africa in Scotland, Brian Filling, who organised the 1993 trip said he wanted ‘a more permanent memory’ for the former Nobel prize winner.

He said: “The idea of creating a permanent and public memorial – a statue in Nelson Mandela Place – grew out of that spontaneous and moving tribute.

“In our opinion Nelson Mandela Place is historically, politically and functionally the ideal location to site a statue of Mandela.”

Mr Filling who is also a GCU honorary graduate has fond memories of Mandela’s first time at the square named after him.

Mr Filling speaking at the launch of the bid.

He added: “(Mandela) told me that he felt something special about Glasgow and its people, when I told him we picketed in the square for a full year he said ‘but doesn’t it rain a lot in Scotland?’”

Other notable patrons of the foundation include former Celtic and Liverpool player Kenny Dalglish and Professor Denis Goldberg who spent 22 years in prison for his part in the anti-apartheid movement.

Speaking alongside Sir Alex and Mr Filling, Lord Provost Eva Bolander said she fully backed the bid and hoped that the planning committee will accept the application with ease.

She said: “Glasgow has continued to play a prominent and steadfast role in the struggle to see Mandela, and others, released; and to end apartheid.

“I’m delighted to welcome the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation to the city and lend my support to its aims to erect a statue and increase knowledge and understanding of Mandela and his iconic place in history.

“His vision and tireless campaigning helped secure his countrymen and women’s freedom and human rights.”

An open competition will be held to select the sculptor of the statue.

Featured Photos Credits: Liam Ross